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JWM: Study finds bobwhites exposed to pesticides

Cara J

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Northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) have been declining mysteriously throughout their range. In Texas, biologists have watched their numbers fall for three decades, but they’ve been unable to determine why. In an effort to see if pesticides could be contributing, researchers looked at specimens collected in three areas in Texas and found evidence of neonicotinoid insecticide exposure. “That confirms what we think we know: that neonicotinoid exposure is one of the factors that contributes to bobwhite declines in the state and very likely other places,” said TWS member Miguel Mora, a professor at Texas A&M University and a co-author on the study published in the Journal of Wildlife Management. “That cannot be taken away.” The research was a follow-up to a previous study in which Mora and other biologists concluded that “neonicotinoid use was significantly negatively associated with bobwhite abundance” in five areas in Texas where farmers commonly use the pesticides. Looking at the high plains, rolling plains, Gulf Coast prairies and marshes, Edwards Plateau and the South Texas plains, the researchers found the birds’ abundance dropped in the time after the pesticides were introduced. “These pesticides were first used in Texas in the mid-’90s, and that’s when a sharp decline [...]

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